Crossroads District News
Lent Message from Rev. Nola Anderson
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed. To bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion- to give them a garland instead of ashes." Isaiah 61:1-3
Lent begins with a powerful symbol: ashes. On Ash Wednesday the ancient tradition of placing ashes on the foreheads of Christians is reenacted. We use ashes as a symbol to remind us of the way God creates. God formed men and women from the dust of the ground and breathed into us the breath of life. It is God who gives life. And that which is as lifeless as dust is the raw material for creation.
Ashes are also a reminder to us of the importance of confession. The penitent Christian who takes ashes upon themselves is, despite some opinion, not diminishing himself, "Quite the opposite. We have the feeling of being expanded." In confession life is enlarged for we become aware of the wounds of others, our place in the world, and those parts of ourselves which need God's love. Ashes are a reminder that by God's power, seen in creation and experienced anew in confession, our wholeness is not in our goodness. Most of us hide many parts of our lives, and the cost of this is very high. The very things that we deny tend to control us. Our passion for pure goodness is actually a hazard and an indication that we have failed to hear the good news that in Christ we acknowledge our brokenness. More than that, the evil or weakness in us can now be claimed and become a source of vitality.
Sheldon Kopp has pointed out that tyrannical leaders succeed not because they are so evil but because we will not face the darkness of our own hearts. When we were children we were so much more willing to see ourselves as a mix of good and bad. Part of becoming children again, as Jesus commanded, is knowing that we can embrace our failure and brokenness as well as our goodness. Our wholeness is knowing Christ's claim on the totality of our lives and not in our goodness.
My prayer is that we may all take this season of lent to recognize God's life giving power, experience the release of confession and face the darkness of our own heart